Thursday, April 19, 2012

Letter of Explanation

I have it on good authority that this letter is moving up the chain of command among those who were involved in the Cartagena events. Clearly we may not have understood exactly how events transpired there:


In your icy, indeed hostile, telephone call of yesterday, you requested
a report about the alleged proceedings involving my soldiers. As the
reports from the local authorities and the head of the Australian
legation were undoubtedly a complete fabrication, I welcome the
opportunity to put the truth of the matter forward. .

Your kind offer to "buy a round of drinks" for the troops at the end
of the deployment was taken and the CSM ensured that appropriate
quantities of libation and food were purchased against your credit card
, with festivities being held in my hotel suite. An enjoyable evening
ensued but insufficient supplies had been obtained, so several members
of the company left for further purchases at a local bar.

In a truly magnanimous gesture, ten bar girls from that establishment
helped carry the beer back to the hotel. To demonstrate our
appreciation of their assistance, we served them some cool drink. They
then offered to show us some local culture, and, in order not to
offend, we allowed them to dance.

The banging on the walls of my room had, by now, quite honestly, become
invasive, and it was disturbing the dancers, so we arranged an amusing
little deterrent. LT Brown's impersonation of a Police Officer was
quite clever as he goose-stepped to each room and harangued the
occupants with a very witty diatribe about disturbing hotel guests. I
personally heard nothing of his alleged threats to life or limb in as
claimed by the sister of the local Police Chief whose room was,
unluckily, next door.

I suspect that this woman was the sneak who called security and hotel
management but I absolutely refute that the shout "Stand To, enemy
approaching!" was made. The simple coincidence of security arriving
just as we stood the double bed on its side across the door to make the
dance floor bigger is obvious. The major damage to the room occurred
when a group of gatecrashers, whom we could not know were hotel
security, forced their way in just as most of us happened to be leaning
against the bed watching the dancing.

The subsequent events in the foyer of the hotel are an equally vicious
distortion of the facts. I was explaining the importance of the post
activity celebrations to the General Manager of the hotel, and stating
that other guests were obviously fabricating their stories of the noise
and drinking, when CPL Smith and several others from HQ Coy (in keeping
with their pursuit of physical fitness) organised the race up the drapes
which hang along the foyer wall. It says little for the workmanship that
the fittings were torn from the wall before most of the company was
even halfway up.

At this stage SGT Williams, our Orderley Room SGT attempted to rescue
the situation with her depth of knowledge of local culture. Her
rendition of the Fertility Dancing Maiden in the foyer's 'Pool of
Remembrance' was nothing short of breathtaking. Normally this dance is
performed wearing just a sarong skirt but SGT Williams' extra step to "
Au Natural" was a bold step forward. Unfortunately, during one
intricate step, SGT Williams slipped and fell beneath the fountain, but
we were lucky that SSGT Johnson had the great presence of mind to strip
to avoid getting his uniform wet, leapt in to help.

The tiles of the pool were very slippery and it took nearly ten minutes
of threshing about before he could actually complete his rescue. Such
concern was there for these two exemplary member's safety, that the
many of company jumped in to assist, and I deny that this massed rescue
attempt could be construed as a 'Water Polo' game!

Order had nearly been restored when the fire started. I prefer CPL
White's version of events that the drapes had caught fire from being
against a light fitting, and that he dropped his cigarette lighter
whilst trying to escape the flames. Had hotel management fulfilled
their responsibilities and used fire retardant material instead of
velvet, the fire would not have spread to the rest of the hotel.

The responsible attitude shown by my soldiers in assisting the bar
staff to carry out drinks from the cocktail party is to be commended,
not condemned, and the attempt by many male members to extinguish
pockets of fire using natural means has been totally misrepresented in
some quarters.

I made an official protest about these matters when the head of the
Australian Legation visited us at the Police Station the next morning.
However, not only did Ambassador Downey not attempt to refute the
preposterous allegations made against me and my soldiers crew, but also
failed to secure our release immediately.

I trust that now I have outlined the correct version of events, we may
allow ourselves a discreet smile as to the lack of social
sophistication of some of these developing nations and put all this
behind us. In my opinion my soldiers and the agents in question behaved in accordance with the
finest US military traditions.

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